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FAA sets up board to review Boeing 737 Max software fix

Washington

THE Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Tuesday it had convened a multi-agency Technical Advisory Board (TAB) to review Boeing's proposed software fix on the grounded 737 MAX.

The board consists of experts from the FAA, US Air Force, Nasa and Volpe National Transportation Systems Center who were not involved in any aspect of the Boeing 737 MAX certification. The board's recommendations will "directly inform the FAA's decision concerning the 737 MAX fleet's safe return to service".

The plane was grounded worldwide in mid-March after two Boeing 737 MAX crashes - one that month and another in October 2018 - killed 346 people.

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Boeing, which has yet to formally submit the software fix to the FAA for approval, did not immediately comment on Tuesday on the new review.

The TAB will assess Boeing's proposed fix to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), and will "identify issues where further investigation is required prior to FAA approval of the design change", the FAA said.

The world's largest planemaker, facing its worst crisis in years, has said its software upgrade and associated pilot training will add layers of protection to prevent erroneous data from triggering MCAS. The system activated in the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March and also in a Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October 2018.

There are a number of other reviews ongoing, including a blue-ribbon committee appointed by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao looking at the FAA's aircraft certification process. Federal prosecutors, the Transportation Department's inspector general and lawmakers are investigating the FAA's certification of the 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

A separate joint review by 10 governmental air regulators started last week, but the FAA has said that a decision on ungrounding the plane is not contingent on that review being completed. REUTERS